In Defence of New Humanist Magazine and Peter Singer against Nadine Dorries
This post is in response to claims made by someone called Nadine Dorries who says that the magazine New Humanist is an “extreme” organisation and apparently a “cult”. She claims that humanists advocate “infanticide” – and apparently that’s a bad thing. We need not be interested in her weird accusations of calling a magazine a “cult” (what would you call Cosmopolitan? A religion?). I want to focus on her claims that infanticide is (by definition) immoral, evil, and so on. And, therefore, anyone who advocates must bad, too. These claims are nonsense if we actually examine the arguments.
The Humanist Logo (from Per Caritatem blog) / The Symbol of "Evil" to Dorries
Some brief background: Dorries became the frontrunner for New Humanist’s Bad Faith Award, which is the award the “worst enemy of reason” for that particular year, according to New Humanist’s readers. Past “winners” have been such notables as Sarah Palin and the Pope. Anyway, in response to discovering herself at the front end of apparent silliness, Dorries responded with, well, precisely how a frontrunner for the Bad Faith Award would. Continue reading →
Recently, Diane Coetzer wrote a negative review of The Parlotone’s concert Dragonflies and Astronauts. Due to her criticisms, Eban Oliver of Catalyst Entertainment responded with unnecessary vitriol on Facebook. The whole incident is painting him in an ugly light, proceeding before lawyers and the courts, and could be the first such case in which South Africa considers defamation in terms of social media. Here, I’m looking at how criticism (of the arts works) and why it’s necessary for artists themselves. Oh, and why we need to be adults about criticism, on both sides.
There appears to be a problem with criticism. As I’ve previously explained elsewhere, labeling things ‘opinions’ and ‘feelings’ are unhelpful when we are critiquing or arguing for or against something. What matters is not that what we offer is an opinion – that’s a neutral term and, besides, everybody has one. What matters is whether it’s a good opinion. By good, I mean well-argued, reasoned, ideally with evidence and so on. This, note, can be given by experts or lay people like myself. It’s just that we expect experts to be consistently providing good arguments (mainly in their field but sometimes outside, too). This is the basis for scientific explanation and understanding. Using good arguments, with evidence and so on, the best approximation of what’s true and what is nonsense. Continue reading →
I’ve been considering capital punishment, due to the recent case of Duane Buck. Andrew Cohen has written an important essay in The Atlantic. Well-written, it also cuts through obvious partisan lines to state upfront various positions on state-sanctioned killing, as well as the inadequacies of each. However, importantly, Cohen responds to a practical and common response from many people, when they let their emotional reactions become entangled in policies. Continue reading →
Greetings everyone. Today I am putting up my first guest-post by Marie Owens, a prospective law student at Washington State. Today she deals with the death-penalty, someone called Immanuel Kant (I’ll pretend I don’t have a love-hate relationship with him), and a very interesting case-study on retributivism.
Take it away, Marie.
DEATH PENALTY ON TRIAL
by Marie Owens
A 22-year-old man was dismembered and partially eaten by his seatmate on a Greyhound bus in July 2008. When 40-year-old Vince Weiguang Li was stabbing his victim Li appeared emotionless and his movements were without hesitation; as if he was in a trance. Thousands of people in Canada, where this horrific act took place, advocated for Li to receive the death penalty. The last execution in Canada was on Dec. 11, 1962 at Toronto’s Don Jail, almost 50 years ago at the time. The crime that Li committed, without remorse, was demonic, but is it ethical for him to receive the same fate in court? Ultimately Li ended up being sentenced to a mental institution because he was suffering from schizophrenia, but his actions made Canada re-evaluate the death penalty, which would not only change the country’s criminal justice system, but also force educational institutions to re-assess their criminal justice degree programs and completely change the acceptance evaluation process of mental institutions and hospitals. Big change for a case that even though heinous, is a common one that occurs on a daily basis all over the world. Murder is always going to occur between people. So: Is capital punishment really the ethical answer to this issue?
I don’t really watch TV. When I do allow myself free-time it’s for reading some fiction (currently Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’ series). Anyway, I record certain programs then I watch them weeks later. I say this because I’ve only just watched Carte Blanche episode, from 12 June 2011. That’s a month ago.
Anyway, this was a largely disappointing episode but I’m still glad it was made. It dealt extensively with the large-scale alleged corruption within Jo’burg’s EMS. This was excellent, albeit a bit theatrical. Yet, within the episode, there were two stories that were intriguing to me.
Until a few hours ago, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with the writer Neil Gaiman. Now, to start, I’ve never met him and probably never will. I’ve only read most, but not all, of his works, including his graphic novels and comics, and encountered some of his films. I’m just a reader like anyone else.